In September 2021, Emmanuel began a series of conversations in preparation for a 2022 denominational vote on three motions pertaining to a new proposed Identity Statement for CBWC churches at the 2022 CBWC Assembly. Motion 1 concerned the content of the proposed Identity Statement, Motion 2 concerned local church autonomy related to the implications of that statement, and Motion 3 concerned the statement’s implications for CBWC churches and credentialed staff within the CBWC should they not adopt the (then proposed) Identity Statement. 
In December 2021, the CBWC notified churches that only Motion 1 would be voted on at the 2022 Assembly, while Motions 2 & 3 would be deferred to the 2023 Assembly. In early May 2022, Emmanuel held a vote of our membership on Motion 1 which resulted in our church voting against adopting the denomination’s proposed identity statement and having the denomination speak for and represent our church community.
While our membership voted against the proposed statement, the majority of the CBWC churches voted in favour of the proposed identity statement and the denomination formally adopted the Identity Statement at the 2022 Assembly. To view the complete, adopted Identity Statement, please click here.
Below, please find a snapshot of some of the history, resources, and conversations that shaped Emmanuel’s steps in this process. 
CBWC Question & Answer Session
CBWC Q&A Session – March 24th, 2022
with CBWC President Loralyn Lind, CBWC Executive Minister Rob Ogilvie, and CBWC Heartland Area Regional Minister Mark Doerksen
*Please note that the presentations begins at 5:40 on the playbar.
Local Church Autonomy Conversation with Colin Godwin and Ken Bellous
Colin Godwin & Ken Bellous – March 9th, 2022
*Please note that the audio begins at 5:42 on the playbar, with presentations beginning at 14:45.
March 4th, 2022
Emmanuel Baptist’s Community Conversation Committee has compiled several excerpts from resources on the topics of local church autonomy and associational interdependence. Motion #1 has led many individuals and churches to consider these concepts, from a historic Baptist perspective. We encourage you to consider these concepts in preparation for the vote on Motion #1. The location of each new reference is provided at the top of quoted materials, for your convenience.

Leadership and Organization


Found at: Baptists in Canada | The Canadian Encyclopedia

The belief in the congregational nature of the local church is a central tenet. Local churches also have autonomy in decisions, statements of belief, calling of ministers and all other matters involved in the church. Central to the Baptist belief is the understanding that the church is built upon the called out people rather than on any historic building or denomination. As a result of the decentralized nature of the church and its government, Baptists in Canada have largely remained separated into regional fraternals, federations, assemblies and conventions. This modern structure results from the earliest non-conformist principles of religious freedom and a distinction between the state and church. Despite this distinction, Baptists continue to influence the political, economic and cultural attributes where they have significant church numbers.
While Baptists are independent they do belong to the broader community. The major groupings of Baptists are the Association of Regular Baptist Churches, the Baptist General Conference of Canada, Canadian Baptist Ministries, the Canadian National Baptist Convention, and the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.
Among the distinguishing features of the local Baptist Churches that are associated with the BUWC is their emphasis on freedom for the individual, both in terms of human rights and RELIGION. Growing out of their historical roots in the Puritan-Independent movement in England, they have shied away from any overarching structure that might curtail their freedom.
The Union Church is somewhat less conservative regarding a variety of social, political, and theological issues. While not immune from the tensions created by the liberalism/fundamentalism debate that took place in the 1920s and 1930s, the Baptist Union churches maintained what might be termed an “open evangelical” position. They, for example, have allowed for the ordination of women since 1959 and have had several women as presidents of the Union; they have also shied away from having new members sign formal statements of faith.

Local Church Autonomy


Found at: Baptist Distinctives | Christian History Magazine (

Each particular church has a complete power and authority from Jesus Christ to administer all gospel ordinances, provided they have sufficient, duly qualified officers …to receive in and cast out, and also to try and ordain their own officers, and to exercise every part of gospel discipline and church government, independent of any other church or assembly whatever. Several independent churches where Providence gives them a convenient situation, may and ought for their mutual strength, counsel, and other valuable advantages, by their voluntary and free consent, to enter into an agreement and confederation.
Benjamin Griffiths (1746)
The Local Church Has the Authority to Settle its Internal Affairs Concerning Saints Going to Law Against Other Saints (1 Cor 6:1–5):
Paul directs the local church at Corinth to care for its difficulties. No committee was formed and no pressure was brought to bear either by other churches, apostles, or ministerial executives. The decision of the local church on the matter was final. There is no higher court of appeal or body of jurisdiction; the local church’s judgment is final (Matt 18:15). (A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity, Vol. 3, 236)
Local Church Government Is Biblical in Constitution:
The authority, principles and rules of organization are to be found in the Bible alone: “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ … he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Tim 6:3–5).
Local Church Government Is Congregational in Form:
Each local church has supreme authority in its own affairs. It cannot be dominated, coerced or interfered with by any power outside itself. This does not preclude cooperation with other local churches, but such cooperation or association has no authority over the local church. (236)

Church Autonomy and Association


Found at: What do Baptists believe? – Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec

Government in a local church is controlled by the principles of the priesthood of all believers, the Lordship of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Christ, present in the lives of congregational members, leads them corporately to discover and obey his mind and will. Such ‘congregational government’ calls for and expresses the equality and responsibility of believers under the Lordship of Christ. Baptist churches also recognize the need to temper the exercise of their autonomy in order to ‘associate’ by linking regionally, nationally and internationally for ministry, mission, support and fellowship.
Local Church Autonomy. Baptists believe government in a local church is controlled by the principles of the priesthood of believers, the Lordship of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, present in the lives of congregational members, leads them corporately to discover and obey his mind and will. As a result, it is important that each church verify each potential members statement of faith to make sure that their claim is valid. Each church is competent under Christ to look after its own affairs and has freedom from coercion by other bodies. From their beginning, however, Baptists have consistently recognized the importance of cooperation with churches of “like faith and order.”
An eminent British Baptist scholar/pastor, Henry C. Cook, made the following observation: “Baptists at the beginning were Congregationalists but not Independents; that is to say, they believed in “the gathered church,” the local community of believers made competent in Christ to exercise church privileges and responsibilities, but they set their faces against isolationism, and they regarded the local churches as livingly related for the common ends of the Gospel.” The heritage of English Baptists has been passed down to the mainstream Baptist communities in Canada where it has interacted with Baptist cultures in the United States.
Contemporary Baptist ecclesiology must reflect two denominating aspects: the independent identity of each particular congregation and the need to work in concert with like-minded congregations. Just as each congregation exhibits the mind of Christ as believers committed to Christ, in association several congregations “of like faith and order” also seek the mind of Christ. Both are manifestations of the fullness of the Body of Christ. (William Brackney, author)
VIDEO: Assembly Recap 2021: The Why and How of the Process 
February 22, 2022

A Statement from the Board of Elders at Emmanuel Baptist Church

At Emmanuel we have made listening, learning and engaging in conversation a priority for our community as we prepare to participate in a denominationally led vote this May. One element of this vote relates to the definition of marriage. As such our pastors, as well as 4 guest speakers, have presented us with 5 or more different views on their theological interpretation and understanding of marriage and sexuality, and in several cases graciously provided an important LGBTQ+ voice to the conversation.

As Christians, the challenge and emotional weight we feel as we wrestle through a season of disagreement is difficult and heavy.  Regardless of where our theological convictions lie, these conversations are hard; they can create tension, frustration and in some cases even hurt among our community. Yet, it is important that we remember that our discomfort is not comparable to the potential harm and even trauma these conversations can cause to members of the LGBTQ+ community.  

As a board we felt led to make a statement in recognition of the potential harm our community conversation process may have caused to members of the LGBTQ+ community.  We acknowledge that parts of the process, particularly where the impact to their community was not considered, may have caused them to question their belonging here, or diminished their ability to flourish within our community.  As a board we do not support a narrative that does not recognize the LGBTQ+ community as part of the conversation.  

It is our prayer that the voices and experiences of, and impact on, the LGBTQ+ community are front of mind in all we do and say throughout our preparations for Assembly 2022 and beyond. We thank the community at Emmanuel Baptist Church who have committed themselves to gracious conversation with one another, created space for difference in opinion on the interpretation of scripture, and are prayerfully considering a way forward for our community.


In Christ,

Board of Elders


Emmanuel Baptist Church, Saskatoon SK
To download a pdf copy of the letter, click here


Community Conversation Weekend with Gordon T. Smith and Cal Malena
Gordon & Cal at the connection January 30th
Gordon & Cal Sunday AM Service January 30th
Cal Malena January 29th Presentation
Gordon T. Smith January 29th Presentation
Community Conversation Weekend With Wesley Hill and Beth Carlson-Malena
Wesley and Beth at the connection
Wesley and Beth Sunday AM Service
Wesley Hill January 15th Presentation
Beth Carlson-Malena January 15th Presentation
Sept. 15th, 2021
Note from the 2021 Community Conversation Committee

Over the past months, the 2021 Community Conversation Committee has been planning a number of activities that will help our church engage in conversation about the CBWC’s Identity Statement and the proposed motions for Assembly 2022.  Here are some of the activities that we are proposing for this fall and winter. 

In addition to the recommended resources that can be found at the Community Conversation Resource Webpage, we are encouraging our church family to engage in an eight-session Bible Study, using the study developed by the CBWC staff, To Be a Holy People, (with some modifications and additions from our committee).  We are inviting small groups to engage with the study this fall.  We are also convening additional groups to meet either in person or online on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings.  Please let us know of your interest in one of these groups by filling out the form below.

We plan to host several forums for presentations and dialogue.  The first of these will be on Thursday, November 4, 7-9pm, featuring the lead pastors of both congregations (morning and The Connection).  Each of the pastors, Brendon and Rob, will be asked to offer their perspectives on the Identity Statement, with particular focus on the questions of sexuality and marriage as well as the intersection of local church autonomy and associational interdependence (or interdependence within our church association/denomination).

In January, we are planning to invite two persons from the LGBTQ+ community to share their stories with us.  We are hoping to have someone who is married to a person of the same sex and one who is committed to a life of celibacy.

In February, we a planning to host a weekend of Biblical and theological reflection with two leaders, one making the case for the marriage equality and the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the life and ministry of the church, and one advocating for a gracious hospitality toward LGBTQ persons while upholding the traditional position on marriage and sexuality.

In March, we anticipate one more forum to discuss questions of local church autonomy and interdependence within our church association (denomination), and then, in April, a vote on the motions that would inform the delegates who will represent our church at Assembly 2022.

We ask that you continue to pray for our church family as we engage in these conversations over the next year and that you give some priority to your participation in them. 
*Registration is now closed for the Bible Study*
Sept. 1, 2021



Assembled by the Emmanuel Subcommittee, June 2021


2021 Community Conversation

Over the next year, the Emmanuel Baptist Church community will be engaging in an extended conversation around the proposed CBWC* Identity Statement and the associated motions to be voted on at the CBWC Assembly in 2022. To assist our congregational learning and discussion, we have assembled a list of resources on the topics of church association and autonomy, sexuality and the church, and LGBTQ+* stories. We also provide links to resources assembled by CBWC staff. The resources are separated into an Introductory List, which can be read in an hour or two, and an Extended List that explore the issues in greater detail. These resources have been assembled in response to the June 2021 congregational survey.

CBWC        Canadian Baptists of Western Canada
LGBTQ+     Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer +.
Affirming – supporting the inclusion of those who identify as LGBTQ+ in the life of the church,   
                   including church membership for LGBTQ+ persons;
Welcoming but not Affirming – desiring to grow in understanding and love for those who identify as
                  LGBTQ+ but not supporting church membership for LGBTQ+ persons except those who
                  are single and celibate.
Resources to Aid in Having Good Conversations:

On Being: Civil Conversations Project. Better Conversations: A Starter Guide. Article. Length: 15 min. Provides advice about how to facilitate constructive conversations with others who think differently, in areas that are uncomfortable and potentially contentious.



Psychology Today. A 5-Step Recipe for Opening People’s Minds – Stop Debating and Start Dialoguing. Article. Length: 10 min. Discussion points and tips for healthy conversation with people who hold opposing views to our own.


Resources on Church Association and Autonomy
Cal Malena and two CBWC pastors. Autonomy and Affiliation. A response written and edited by two current and one former pastor within the CBWC regarding the topics of Baptist autonomy and denominational affiliation in response to the motions put forward by the CBWC for Assembly 2022. Position: Argues that the proposed Identity Statement is not consistent with the Baptist commitment to the autonomy of each local congregation.
Resources on Sexuality and the Church

John Shore. Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality. Blog post. Length: 10-15 min. A blog post that takes a second look at biblical passages relating to same-sex relationships. Position: Affirming.


Ron Sider: Homosexuality – A Better Approach. A webpage that addresses the church’s response to gay people. Web-Based Article. Length: 10-15 min. Position: Welcoming but not affirming.


The Reformation Project (Matthew Vines): The Biblical Case for LGBTQ Inclusion. A well-crafted webpage listing ten Biblical reasons for LGBTQ inclusion in the church. Web-Based Article. Length: initially 10 min, with links for further exploration of each of the ten reasons. Position: Affirming.


Preston Sprinkle. 15 Reasons for Affirming Same – Sex Relations — and 15 Responses. Position Paper. Length: 30-60 min. One of 15 position papers from the Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender, summarizing then countering 15 reasons to affirm same-sex relations. Position: Welcoming but not affirming, a thoughtful response to “The Reformation Project” (Matthew Vines, above).



CBWC Resources

CBWC staff have assembled an extensive set of resources to help its member churches prepare for Assembly 2022. For those who wish to delve deeper, an exhaustive list of resources from multiple perspectives outside the CBWC is available under: DISCOVER: Faith, Sexuality and Gender: Recommended Reading

Sexuality and the Church
Ron Sider. Will You Lead the Church to a Better Stance on Homosexuality? Book chapter. Length: 30-60 min. An expanded discussion of a thoughtful, non-affirming approach, from Chapter 5 of “The Future of our Faith”, Brazos Press, 2016. Position: Welcoming but not Affirming.


Matthew Vines. The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality. YouTube Video. Length: 1 hour, 7 min. The author of ‘God and the Gay Christian’, discusses his book in this presentation to a church in Wichita, Kansas in 2012.


Sam Allberry. Is God Anti-Gay? Answering Tough Questions About Same-Sex Marriage. YouTube Video. Length: 56 min. A celibate same-sex-attracted Anglican Rector from the UK and author of “Is God Anti-Gay?” presents to the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission in 2014. Position: Welcoming but not Affirming.


The Liturgists. Episode 20, LGBTQ. Podcast. Length: 2 hours. A group of leading Christians join Science Mike and Michael Gungor to share their stories and perspectives on LGBTQ persons and the church. Contributors: Donald Miller and J.J Peterson; Matthew Vines; Melissa Greene, Stan Mitchell, and Tabitha from GracePointe; Preston Sprinkle; and Ed Gungor. Position: Spans different points of view, intended to facilitate conversation.


Wiltshire Baptist Church, Dallas Texas. Inclusion and Diversity Study Group Presentation. YouTube Video. Length: 2 hours. Presentation featuring speakers addressing varied perspectives of diversity and inclusion through the lenses of scripture, genetics, mental health and more. Position: Spans different points of view, summarizes one church’s extended dialogue.


Justin Lee and Wesley Hill. How Do We Love? A Thoughtful Dialogue on Sexual Differences. YouTube Video. Length: 2 hours, 6 min. Justin Lee, author of “Torn – Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christian Debate” and Wesley Hill, author of “Washed and Waiting – Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality” present their respective sides of the issue in response to a paper published by Biola University in 2015. Position: one Affirming (Lee) and the other Welcoming but not Affirming (Hill).

David Gushee. Changing Our Minds. YouTube Video. Length: 2 hours, 5 min. An evangelical ethicist and author of “Changing our Minds: A Landmark Call for Inclusion of LGBTQ Christians”, presents and answers questions regarding full inclusion of LGBTQ Christians in the church to A Gathering of Baptists in 2020. Position: Affirming.


Preston Sprinkle. Grace//Truth: Conversations Thoughtful Christians Should Have About Faith, Sexuality and Gender. Group Study. Length: 10 weeks. Group study hosted by the author of “People to Be Loved” and Director of the Centre for Faith, Sexuality & Gender. Position: Welcoming but not affirming.
LGBTQ+ Stories

Jen Hatmaker: Jen & Sydney Hatmaker on Being Gay, Christian & Loved. Podcast. Length: 45 min. A mother daughter conversation about what it is like to grow up as the daughter of a popular Christian author and speaker, and realize you are gay. Position: Affirming.


Wesley Hill: Homosexuality and Christian Faithfulness – Wesley Hill and Darrell L. Bock. YouTube Video. Length: 46 min. An interview of a gay Christian who chose celibacy, on same-sex attraction and spiritual friendship. Position: Welcoming but not Affirming.


Beth Carlson-Malena. Pastor-Cal (The Beth Blog Ever, August 22, 2015). Blog Post. Length: 5 min. Beth Carlson-Malena discusses her father Cal’s retirement, his shifting theological views on LGBTQ+ relationships, and their family. Position: Affirming.


Rachel Gilson: Born Again This Way – Interview with Rachel Gilson. YouTube Video. Length: 56 min. A “Speak Life” interview of a Christian lesbian who chose marriage to a man. Position: Welcoming but not Affirming.


Justin Lee. Through My Eyes. YouTube Video. Length: 45 min. North American Christians in their teens and twenties share their experiences with church debates on homosexuality by asking them “What is life like through your eyes?” Position: Affirming.


Mennonite Church Canada. The Listening Church project. YouTube Video. Length: 10 min. The Listening Church project creates space for Mennonite LGBTQ people to speak about their experiences in Mennonite Church Canada congregations. Drawing on the wisdom of their experiences in the church, the participants share insights for the church as it discerns how to faithfully relate to those in the church community who identify as other than heterosexual. Contains initial information about the project as well as links to additional resources.

Church Association and Autonomy

Stephen Holmes. Baptist Theology. Book Excerpt. Length: 10 pages. An excerpt from “Baptist Theology” by a Baptist Theologian in the U.K., providing an historian’s overview of Baptist (congregational) governance including the independence and interdependence of local congregations. The relevant text begins towards the bottom of the first page.



William Brackney. Toward a More Robust Ecclesiology. Paper. Length: 16 pages. A professor at Carey Theological College explores the historic Baptist understanding of the church, and addresses current issues in church identity, governance, and mission.